Charlotte Street Historic District

Located in Fordyce (Dallas County), the Charlotte Street Historic District includes the core of a historic subdivision located on the north side of the city. Constructed from 1906 to 1930 on part of the estate of A. B. Banks, the district includes a number of Craftsman-style homes and associated structures. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 14, 1987.

Aloysius Burton (A. B.) Banks was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 2, 1868. He moved to Fordyce in 1885, shortly after the town incorporated. He worked in the insurance business and opened his own fire insurance company in 1891. He expanded the company to cover accidents and grew the business, becoming wealthy in the process.

In 1905, Banks purchased a large plot of land north of the city limits. He constructed a home on the land, and the city annexed the land the next year as the A. B. Banks Addition. Banks laid out streets on the plot, with the main street named Charlotte in honor of his wife. The Banks property is fronted by Broadway Street and bounded on the west by Charlotte Street.

Banks constructed a home designed by noted Arkansas architect Charles Thompson on his property in 1910. The Neoclassical home burned in 1964, and new owners of the property constructed a home on the site in the 1970s. While the Banks home does not survive, many other structures on the property constructed by him and his family do remain. These structures include a brick fence that encircles the property, with multiple iron pedestrian gates and a vehicle gate. Other buildings on the property include a garage and a carriage house. An in-ground swimming pool, reportedly the first private pool in the state, is also located on the property, as well as a pergola, constructed for the wedding of Banks’s daughter, Bessie Banks, in 1905.

The area north of the Banks property is centered on Charlotte Street and the cross streets of Broadway, Center, and Smith. A short portion of Meek Street is also included in the district.

The homes constructed in this area are much less grand than the Banks property but are good examples of the growth of Fordyce in the early twentieth century. The homes constructed directly north of the property on Meek and Broadway Streets were built for employees of Banks. The homes at 700 Meek and 510 Broadway are similar in construction, and each includes a low brick front porch that spans the length of the building. Each home has an external brick chimney and Craftsman details, including exposed rafter tails.

Some changes have been made in the district over the years, and a few modern properties are present, including 701 Charlotte. However, the garage located behind the home with a second-floor apartment is included as a contributing property.

Many of the homes on the west side of Charlotte Street were constructed between 1913 and 1930. Banks financed the construction of at least two of the homes and perhaps more, using the services of local contractor C. H. Kollman.

Designed by two associates of Thompson, the D. C. Gates House at 609 Charlotte is a good example of the bungalows in the district. A shareholder in the Fordyce Lumber Company, Gates used his position to outfit the house with cabinets and paneling constructed from knot-free pine boards.

The subdivision is a good example of early twentieth-century architecture in southern Arkansas. With a mixture of homes and other structures, the district preserves an important part of Fordyce’s history.

For additional information:
Charles Thompson Architectural Drawing Collection, Old State House Museum. http://collections.oldstatehouse.com/collections/17536/charles-thompson-architectural-drawing-collection/objects (accessed July 15, 2020).

“Charlotte Street Historic District.” National Register for Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/DA0159.nr.pdf (accessed July 15, 2020).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 07/15/2020